He cooked for me. Every day of cancer treatment. The fridge was full of tasty, nutritious soups and quinoa salad stored in glass (we’d thrown out all plastic within a month of diagnosis, along with the Teflon coated cookware) containers. in January I craved the sweet floral taste of honeydew melon. Out of season, but he found it, cut it into bite sized pieces, served it to me in bed.
And I loved him back, as best I could between nauseous ups and downs. I ate. Along with a recently pregnant co-worker, I learned that blood sugar swings were my enemy. Stacks and stacks of small snacks, protein based, stored at home, at work, by the bed, I ate a little something every two hours.
I never puked. Not once. I rode it out the way I used to ride out carsickness in the back of my mom’s VW van when we drove, innumerable times, across country. I learned to just lie back, watch the telephone poles go by, mile after mile. Eventually you get there. Somewhere else.
I charted a course through the foggy maze of fear, medication and side effects: roast chicken, miso soup, bone broth, fancy cheeses, never ever allowing myself to get either hungry or full.
We were on the verge of break up when I got sick, and he leaned in instead of out. The entire time, he cooked and cleaned the kitchen, protecting my non-existent immune system from infections. A food borne illness would have killed me outright. He disinfected the counters before preparing any food, wiping down the drawer knobs, the refrigerator handle. Washing hands, dozens and dozens of times, until his skin was raw.
Each evening, when he came home, I called out to him from where I lay in my bed. I was a jointless doll, riding the waves of nausea and fatigue. He brought me hard boiled eggs, sparkling water with pomegranate juice, yams roasted until they were caramelized, beef stew. He fed me back into life.